Keeping Safe in Cyberspace

Internet Safety

The Internet allows students to have access to a plethora of information in ways that address their many different learning styles. It also allows connection with other places, people and times, without having to actually leave the classroom. While the Internet is a valuable source of knowledge to today’s learners, it also poses possible threats. Therefore, there are new responsibilities for students, parents, and teachers, in order to make use of the Internet safe. The two main threats which exist in most learning environments are

  1. Student’s ability to access undesirable or inappropriate content.
  2. The possible danger to students when they meet someone online.

The Internet can be a dangerous place for students if they are unprepared. There are many steps that can be taken to keep your students safe while using the Internet. Below are some of those steps.

Educate your students

The saying goes, “Knowledge is power.” If this is true, the first and most important step to protecting students is to make them aware of the potential risks. Making students aware of the dangers that exist will give them power to avoid situations where potential harm can happen. There are many websites available that can help teachers educate their students about safe Internet use.

Safe Kids and Safe teens

This site gives so much in the area of Internet safety it is an invaluable resource for any teacher allowing students to use the Internet.

http://www.safekids.com/

http://www.safeteens.com/

For younger students there are some wonderful online resources that will help get the message of safety across. Below are links to two such resources.

Little Red In Cyberspace (This is a subscription based website)

A modern day take on the classic fairy tale is designed to teach young children about Internet safety. Little Red just wants to surf the Net but the Big Bad Wolf is always lurking.

http://www.tumblebooks.com/library/asp/full_book.asp?ProductID=17

Surfing Safely.com (This is a subscription based website)

The internet can be an amazing adventure but sometimes dangers lurk. Becky, also known as Busy B. chats with her cousin Z-man in this educational story about surfing the world wide web.

http://www.tumblebooks.com/library/asp/full_book.asp?ProductID=31

For older students, maybe the online safety quiz could help them know they are prepared to be safe while using the Internet.

http://www.safekids.com/quiz/

Preview what you are going to use.

As teachers, we have the responsibility to preview the sites we intend to use in class. This, of course, would only apply, if you are using a more structured online lesson such as a Web quest, or an activity that only allows students to search sites you have provided. If, however, you are going to let students loose on the net, while highly inadvisable, it is necessary to do the next step.

If you want the kids to do searching on their own there are several safe searching options.

http://www.sldirectory.com/searchf/kidsafe.html

http://www.tekmom.com/search/

http://www.nettrekker.com/

http://www.internet4classrooms.com/search.htm

Monitor students during use.

This is the most effective way to help keep your students safe. By monitoring closely what each child is doing, you can prevent possible harm. The combination of step 2 and 3 is a sure fire method of safety. and is the best defense. While most monitoring can happen just by walking around and keeping an eye out, there are software that allow this to occur from your desk.

This software allows the teacher to monitor what each student is doing on the computer from their computer.

http://www.neuber.com/usermonitor/index.html

http://dyknow.com/monitor/

Have everyone sign an Acceptable Use Policy

An Acceptable Use Policy (AUP), is a document that everyone in the school community signs pledging that they will use the Internet on campus in a safe and appropriate manner. The AUP not only sets up the guidelines for safe Internet usage, it also allows the students a chance to take an active role in their own safety, and serves as a contract to help bind them to their agreement.

Kids Pledge

This pledge allows the students to take an active role in their own safety.

http://www.safekids.com/kids-pledge/

For more information on Acceptable Use Policies see

http://www.education-world.com/a_curr/curr093.shtml

Use Filtering Software

While the teacher has the responsibility to pre-screen Websites, and to monitor students during usage, they cannot be expected to do this 100% perfectly all the time. There are many programs available that help schools and teachers do this job better and, therefore, help keep students safe. The first type of software that is of great service to this cause, is filtering software. Programs such as Cyber Patrol, Net Nanny, and Cybersitter, all help to filter what is coming into your computer from the Internet, they also can help teachers, parents and administrators track usage and block certain sites.

Internet Filter Software Review

http://internet-filter-review.toptenreviews.com/

There are also safe search engines available

http://www.sldirectory.com/searchf/kidsafe.html

http://www.tekmom.com/search/

http://www.nettrekker.com/

http://www.internet4classrooms.com/search.htm

Use an Antivirus Software

Viruses can cause minor to major problems with your computers, and or information stored on them. Some special types of viruses known as spy-ware, can even help others steel important information so they can do further harm. It is, therefore, imperative to have antivirus software installed and running on your computer. It is also very important to keep this software up-to-date. There are also special programs that help to keep your computer free of spy-ware and malware. Below are some links to some free programs that do a great job.

Anitvir Free Antivirus software

http://www.free-av.com/

Avast Home Edition Free

http://www.avast.com/

Window Defender

http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/winfamily/defender/default.mspx

SuperAnti Spyware

http://www.superantispyware.com/superantispyware.html

If we keep in mind safety while using the Internet, it can be a valuable tool in our InTECHgration efforts.

Thanks for reading,

Shannon Doak

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